Iditarod Sled Race, Alaska.
Antiques are a funny business, and one that I have never entirely ‘got’. I still have no idea why you would want a collection of sugar spoons from an era when stirring was still in its infancy and quite why anybody would want to have paintings of harsh looking women with centre partings from a time when let’s face it women looked a bit rough, is just a little weird.
But old stories, tales from a bygone age, that’s a different matter. Whether it’s the writings of Patrick Leigh Fermor walking from London to Constantinople, Amy Johnson flying to America or Mallory attempting to scale Everest in thick socks and a tweed suit, I just can’t get enough of those times when a complete absence of technology and safety, coupled to an almost unimaginable daring spirit, made for real adventure.
And, luckily for me, there are still events around the world whose history and ethos is rooted very firmly in the ‘Boy’s Own’ mould, Iditarod being a prime example.
The Iditarod is a dog sled race which covers the 1000 mile distance between Anchorage and Nome in Alaska and is based on the Iditarod trail which 100 years ago was a key part of the development of the 49th State. Back then this was gold rush territory and large towns were springing up in the middle of nowhere and the only way they could be supported was by dog sled. Teams of dogs moved supplies and gold along this trail. Then the gold ran out and it looked like the end for the 'Mushing’ teams.'
In 1973 the race was started as a way of celebrating the contribution of both the trail and dog sled teams to Alaska’s history with the winner taking over 3 weeks to reach Nome. This year sees 66 teams leaving Anchorage on Saturday, March 3rd, with the fastest expected to reach Nome around 10 days later. The winner is set to pick up around $60,000 and a new truck, thanks to major sponsorship deals but the race is still an old school battle of attrition against the elements.
The race begins 10 am (7pm GMT) Saturday March 3rd 2018.